Mabus v. Mabus, No. 2001-CA-00381-SCT.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtBefore SMITH, P.J., EASLEY and GRAVES, JJ.
Citation890 So.2d 806
Decision Date13 February 2003
Docket NumberNo. 2001-CA-00381-SCT.
PartiesJulia Gates Hines MABUS v. Raymond Edwin MABUS, Jr.

890 So.2d 806

Julia Gates Hines MABUS
v.
Raymond Edwin MABUS, Jr

No. 2001-CA-00381-SCT.

Supreme Court of Mississippi.

February 13, 2003.


890 So.2d 808
Minor F. Buchanan, William B. Kirksey, Jackson, attorneys for appellant

Richard C. Roberts, III, Robert W. King, T. Roe Frazer, III, Jackson, attorneys for appellee.

Before SMITH, P.J., EASLEY and GRAVES, JJ.

EASLEY, J., for the Court.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 1. Julia Gates Hines Mabus (Julie) and Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr. (Ray) were married on January 3, 1987. During the course of the marriage two daughters were born in 1990 and 1992. On January 8, 1998, Julie filed for divorce in the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County. Julie alleged habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, and Ray counterclaimed alleging uncondoned adultery. Prior to trial, Julie stipulated that the fault ground alleged by her against Ray was without merit. Consequently, the chancellor entered an order which dismissed Julie's claim with prejudice.

¶ 2. The divorce proceeding was bifurcated. By agreed order Ray's allegation of divorce was tried first. Any remaining issues were to be tried at a later time. After the trial, the chancellor granted a divorce to Ray on the grounds of uncondoned adultery. In April 2000, a trial ensued on the remaining issues. Julie does not appeal the chancellor's ruling as to the judgment of divorce. Her appeal stems from the chancellor's ruling on various issues including the admission and exclusion of certain evidence, denial of a motion to amend the complaint, the prenuptial agreement, the award of legal custody to Ray, and the distribution of the marital assets. After careful review, we affirm the judgment.

FACTS

¶ 3. Julie and Ray met in 1985. In June 1986, Ray's father died, and Julie, who is a CPA, worked on the estate. She also worked on Ray's finances and his successful 1987 campaign for Governor. Prior to their engagement, Julie worked at Eastover Corporation. However, she quit that position to start her own consulting firm and to spend time with her sick mother and Ray. She stated that Ray never asked her to quit her position but that he was happy when she left her job.

¶ 4. Julie and Ray were engaged in September 1986 and married on January 3, 1987. During the marriage, Julie kept meticulous records of the expenses. Julie claims that at the time of the marriage she did not know Ray's net worth nor did the prenuptial agreement have a schedule attached to it. On the day before their marriage, January 2, 1987, Ray brought up the prenuptial agreement. Julie was sobbing, and she stated "So I can't remember exactly what happened. But he [Ray] knew that I was unhappy doing it [signing the agreement], and I said, I will show you that I love you; I worship and adore you; I'll show you that; I will sign the stupid agreement, but please, please tear it up; don't do this to me; please tear it up' he said Okay, okay, okay; and I said thank you...."

¶ 5. Julie was a graduate of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and received a B.A. degree in mathematics. She also analyzed financial statements while working in New York for Chemical Bank. She later attended Columbia University and received an M.B.A. in 1977. After receiving her M.B.A., Julie worked in the bond fund department at Merrill Lynch on Wall Street in New York. In the early eighties, Julie passed the Certified Public Accountant exam. Julie also taught money and

890 So.2d 809
banking courses at Mississippi College and the University of San Francisco, undergraduate level, and at Golden Gate University, graduate level. Eventually, Julie was employed by Eastover Corporation in Jackson

¶ 6. On cross-examination Julie stated that she kept a cash flow ledger for Ray. When questioned, Julie agreed that she knew Ray's spending habits and his income prior to the marriage. During the marriage, the Mabuses had nannies to help with the children and other staff to assist in operating the household. Julie testified at length about the couples' various accounts and assets. The Mabuses kept separate accounts throughout the marriage. The Mabuses had properties in Jackson and a vacant lot in Alabama. Julie testified that none of her money was used to purchase the property. The properties were, however, titled to both Julie and Ray.

¶ 7. A number of witnesses testified at trial concerning the lifestyle and parenting skills of Julie and Ray. Julie had a teacher and a few neighbors testify on her behalf. Ray had Margie Cumberland, a housekeeper, and other witnesses to testify at trial. In addition, many witnesses testified as to their observations of the two Mabus children.

¶ 8. Holmes Adams (Adams) testified concerning the prenuptial agreement. Adams, an attorney, has worked on wills, trusts and estate planning. Ray and Adams attended law school at Harvard together. When Ray's father died, Adams worked on probating the will and other estate matters. Adams described his relationship with Julie as cordial. In regard to the estate of Ray's father, Julie was the "point person."

¶ 9. Adams stated that Ray called him because both Julie and Ray wanted a prenuptial agreement. Adams agreed to draft the agreement. Ray and Julie wanted to protect their separate property in the event of a divorce. According to Adams, the meeting took place a few months prior to the January 1987 wedding. He explained to both Julie and Ray that normally each person has their own attorney. However, both Julie and Ray stated that they were in agreement and an attorney was not necessary.

¶ 10. At the meeting, a copy of the agreement was given to each person, and Adams went through every paragraph of the agreement. As they reviewed the agreement, Julie and Ray asked Adams questions. Adams distinctly remembered telling Julie and Ray that if they had any disagreement concerning the terms of the agreement, then they would have to get separate counsel. Adams advised the couple to prepare schedules of their assets and anticipated inheritance. At the time of the meeting, the schedules were not attached. He was not present at the time of the signing of the agreement. The Mabuses did not send him a copy of the executed document.

¶ 11. Renee Haycraft (Haycraft) is a notary public and worked with Ray for many years. Ray asked her to witness the signing of the prenuptial agreement. On January 2, 1987, Haycraft went to Ray's home with her husband. When Haycraft and her husband arrived, Julie and Ray were hospitable. After chatting for a few minutes, Julie and Ray signed the document. Haycraft flipped through the document and was satisfied that it was complete and notarized it. She stated that at no time was Julie sobbing nor did Julie ask Ray to tear up the document.

¶ 12. A former political consultant for Ray, Harrison Hickman (Hickman) testified and provided an affidavit. In the fall of 1986 Harrison spoke to Julie and Ray

890 So.2d 810
about a prenuptial agreement that they would be signing. According to Hickman, Julie stated that they were having a prenuptial agreement because she wanted the agreement

¶ 13. Dr. David Channell (Dr. Channell), a doctorate in finance and administration and current professor of business and economics at William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was an expert witness at trial. He examined Julie's educational background, work history, possible employment locations, and general skills. Based on the information, Dr. Channell testified that Julie could earn a median annual income of $108,450 ($90,000.00 salary with 20.5% in fringe benefits). In addition, he testified that her employability in the Jackson area is very high.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 14. When reviewing a decision of a chancellor, this Court applies a limited abuse of discretion standard of review. McNeil v. Hester, 753 So.2d 1057, 1063 (Miss.2000). This Court will not disturb the findings of a chancellor "unless the chancellor was manifestly wrong, clearly erroneous, or applied the wrong legal standard." Id.

DISCUSSION

1. Whether the chancellor erred and abused his discretion in limiting evidence sought to be presented by Julie and allowing evidence sought to be presented by Ray to such an extent as to deny Julie a fair trial.

¶ 15. Julie argues that the chancellor made erroneous rulings regarding evidentiary matters. Reviewing the rulings collectively, Julie suggests that the chancellor was manifestly wrong, abused his discretion and denied her a fair trial. Of particular concern, Julie argues that she was not allowed to present evidence of the children's excited utterances, rebuttal evidence against Dr. Wood Hiatt (Dr. Hiatt), Ray's expert witness, and evidence to explain her actions upon which Ray and Dr. Hiatt relied and presented to the court.

¶ 16. This Court has consistently held that an unsupported assignment of error will not be considered. Ellis v. Ellis, 651 So.2d 1068, 1072 (Miss.1995). Julie did not cite any authority for her argument that the chancellor erred. This Court does not have to consider alleged error by when no authority is cited in the brief. Armstrong v. Armstrong, 618 So.2d 1278, 1282 (Miss.1993). See also Brown v. Miss. Transp. Comm'n, 749 So.2d 948, 959 (Miss.1999). Accordingly, this issue is procedurally barred.

2. Whether the chancellor erred in excluding the testimony of Janna Findley Harris.

¶ 17. Julie also argues that the chancellor erred by excluding testimony from Janna Findley Harris (Harris). Harris testified at a motion hearing before the court that she saw all of the Mabus family members and that she was a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Julie, however, argues that Harris's testimony was excluded because Harris indicated that she was a marriage counselor and had interviewed Ray. Julie maintains that Ray stated he only visited Harris as a courtesy. Accordingly, Julie contends that the fact that Harris is, among other qualifications, a...

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77 practice notes
  • Pascagoula Sch. Dist. v. Tucker, No. 2010–CA–00955–SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • July 19, 2012
    ...raised for the first time on appeal, particularly where constitutional questions are concerned. 18See [91 So.3d 613]Mabus v. Mabus, 890 So.2d 806, 811 (Miss.2003); Stockstill, 854 So.2d at 1023;Southern, 853 So.2d at 1214;Marcum v. Hancock County Sch. Dist., 741 So.2d 234, 238 (Miss.1999); ......
  • Pascagoula Sch. Dist. v. Tucker, NO. 2010-CA-00955-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • April 12, 2012
    ...issues raised for the first time on appeal, particularly wherePage 26constitutional questions are concerned.18 See Mabus v. Mabus, 890 So. 2d 806, 811 (Miss. 2003); Stockstill, 854 So. 2d at 1023; Southern, 853 So. 2d at 1214; Marcum v. Hancock County Sch. Dist., 741 So. 2d 234, 238 (Miss. ......
  • Webb v. Braswell, No. 2004-CA-01438-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • May 25, 2006
    ...their motion as one for leave to amend the complaint to conform to the evidence as provided under Rule 15(b). Mabus v. Mabus, 890 So.2d 806, 814-16 (Miss.2003); Par Industries v. Target Container Co., 708 So.2d 44, 51-53 (Miss.1998). Even assuming, arguendo, that Rule 15(b) applies to this ......
  • Zahl v. Zahl, No. S-06-1123.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • July 20, 2007
    ...Ill.App.3d 574, 279 Ill.Dec. 456, 800 N.E.2d 524 (2003); Van Schaik v. Van Schaik, 90 Md.App. 725, 603 A.2d 908 (1992); Mabus v. Mabus, 890 So.2d 806 22. See Torres v. Aulick Leasing, 258 Neb. 859, 606 N.W.2d 98 (2000). 23. Id. 24. Id. at 863-64, 606 N.W.2d at 102. --------------- ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
77 cases
  • Pascagoula Sch. Dist. v. Tucker, No. 2010–CA–00955–SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • July 19, 2012
    ...raised for the first time on appeal, particularly where constitutional questions are concerned. 18See [91 So.3d 613]Mabus v. Mabus, 890 So.2d 806, 811 (Miss.2003); Stockstill, 854 So.2d at 1023;Southern, 853 So.2d at 1214;Marcum v. Hancock County Sch. Dist., 741 So.2d 234, 238 (Miss.1999); ......
  • Pascagoula Sch. Dist. v. Tucker, NO. 2010-CA-00955-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • April 12, 2012
    ...issues raised for the first time on appeal, particularly wherePage 26constitutional questions are concerned.18 See Mabus v. Mabus, 890 So. 2d 806, 811 (Miss. 2003); Stockstill, 854 So. 2d at 1023; Southern, 853 So. 2d at 1214; Marcum v. Hancock County Sch. Dist., 741 So. 2d 234, 238 (Miss. ......
  • Webb v. Braswell, No. 2004-CA-01438-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • May 25, 2006
    ...their motion as one for leave to amend the complaint to conform to the evidence as provided under Rule 15(b). Mabus v. Mabus, 890 So.2d 806, 814-16 (Miss.2003); Par Industries v. Target Container Co., 708 So.2d 44, 51-53 (Miss.1998). Even assuming, arguendo, that Rule 15(b) applies to this ......
  • Zahl v. Zahl, No. S-06-1123.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • July 20, 2007
    ...Ill.App.3d 574, 279 Ill.Dec. 456, 800 N.E.2d 524 (2003); Van Schaik v. Van Schaik, 90 Md.App. 725, 603 A.2d 908 (1992); Mabus v. Mabus, 890 So.2d 806 22. See Torres v. Aulick Leasing, 258 Neb. 859, 606 N.W.2d 98 (2000). 23. Id. 24. Id. at 863-64, 606 N.W.2d at 102. --------------- ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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